Alice from 59club reveals all about carving out a career in the golf industry and finally finding herself on the other side of the golfing coin.
It’s Women & Girls Golf Week 2023; a week dedicated to celebrating the achievements of women on and off the course and shining a light on the opportunities available to women through the game – like a successful career.
The golf industry is experiencing a dynamic shift towards greater inclusivity and diversity, opening a myriad of exciting career opportunities for women. From professional players and coaches to golf course management, marketing and equipment design, women are making significant strides in various facets of the industry. They’re breaking traditional barriers and forging their paths, contributing to the growth and success of the golf industry on both local and global levels.
And it doesn’t matter if they’ve never really picked up a club before, either. Because often, the career comes before the passion for playing the game …
Industry insider, novice golfer
Account Manager Alice Cox-Cooper has over 20 years of experience in the golf and leisure industry. Her very first job at 16 was as a waitress at a golf club. She worked as the Head of Membership at The Mere for just over a decade. And in October last year, she joined the team at 59club.
Her family are avid golfers – her parents have both been Club Captains and her brother is a professional golfer.
And despite her extensive knowledge of the game's mechanics, intricacies and nuances – all par for the course after carving out a successful career in the industry – Alice had never picked up a club herself. Until now.
“I’ve just never felt it was something I had to do for my job,” Alice tells me.
“Getting into golf felt like a big commitment and a big investment. And with small children, I never really had the time.
“But after years of being asked whether I play, I’ve finally decided to give it a go!
“I’ve really enjoyed learning a new skill and I can see how playing will only benefit me in my current role with 59club. Rather than a quick meeting over coffee, being able to play golf will give me the opportunity to spend quality time with my clients on the course.
“I really think it will help to expand my professional network too.”
But Alice admits that getting into golf hasn’t been as easy as she thought – even with her experience in the industry.
“It’s been much tougher than I thought. In terms of technique, but it’s also been a lot more demanding on my time than I thought it would be too.
“I’m also surprised at how expensive it’s been to start playing golf as a beginner. I’ve set myself a goal to have a handicap by next Spring and I want to practice regularly. In golf, if you borrow clubs, it’s hard to practice. So I’ve been having regular lessons, got some clubs and joined as an Academy member at my local golf club so that I can use the driving range. Otherwise, my local range is quite far away.
“That’s a really big investment for someone totally new to the game. I was fortunate that someone gifted me some clubs. But there’s really no low-cost option to just “give golf a go” to see if you like it. I’m a runner – you literally just need trainers and away you go. You can do it at anytime, anywhere. But golf is completely different.”
Pathways to participation
One of the things I’m particularly passionate about is creating clear pathways for women to get into golf – and stay in the game.
It’s all well and good having different programmes to help women get started, but often the route from beginner to regular golfer is a bit rocky, to say the least.
“Finding a “Get into golf” programme was easy. But they just didn’t seem to be geared up for people like me.
“Group lessons are great for socialising, but that wasn’t my objective for getting golf. And whilst they’re a good way to learn the basics of the game, it felt like a really slow process. The sessions didn’t really fit around work and my children; it’s hard to commit to the same time every week. And so I needed something a bit more serious and a bit more flexible. Individual lessons offered me that.
“And that was my biggest hurdle. I wasn’t sure how much I’d enjoy golf or whether I really wanted to commit to regular lessons, buying golf clubs and finding somewhere to practice. But if I didn’t do all of that it would have been hard to get into the sport.”
And Alice is absolutely right. We have this sort of one-size-fits-all approach to getting people into golf. And it doesn’t work for a lot of people.
Alice also told me that despite her experience in the industry, she’s still found getting into the game intimidating at times.
“It has been a bit daunting, especially going out on the golf course. But I’m enjoying learning to play and that feeling you get when you hit a good shot.
“And all in all, everyone has been really supportive. I’m really excited about my future in the game!”
Thinking about getting into golf? Here's everything you need to know to get started!